Is Facebook mapping your personality?
Looking at Facebook’s records, I tried to figure out if Facebook is mapping its users’ personality.
The old adage that knowledge is power goes doubly for tech companies, where data reigns supreme. But end-users often have no idea the unethical uses their data is being put to.
Bloomberg reports that Facebook has been transcribing users' voices on its Messenger app, although Facebook claims that it was doing so in order to test the performance of its speech-recognizing artificial intelligence. It also added that it was being recorded with users' consent and has since ceased.
One of the third-party contractors working on the projects blew the whistle on the incident. Contractors who worked on the project were not aware of the reasons as to why Facebook was transcribing these conversations. Interestingly, Facebook never mentioned the recording in its data-use policy. This prompted the contract workers to come out and speak about their unethical conduct.
But, looking at Facebook’s records, I tried to figure out if Facebook is mapping its users’ personality?
What is personality?
Briefly (according to Britannica) it is a characteristic way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. It includes moods, attitudes, and opinions that are expressed in our interactions with other people.
How you think, feel and behave:
While using Facebook we are virtually interacting with people. We react to a post in the form of likes, love, laugh, wonder, sadness, and anger (the five reactive emojis on Facebook). Each of these emojis and actions shared on the platform provides hints about our opinion, emotion, thinking, and behaviour on the topic, person, or event.
The future plan of Facebook looks way beyond our reactions to posts. A patent filed by Facebook shows that they will try to capture the real emotions and moods registered on users’ faces by using facial recognition software.
Sharing something shows our intent of what we care about and what we want others to know. A comment box captures another dimension of our behaviour.
One might say that different people might react differently to the same post. Yes, exactly! That's what makes us distinct and is part of our personality. Every action on the platform reveals a distinct part of your personality.
A documentary 'The Great Hack' on the meddling of US elections involving Cambridge Analytica is now available on Netflix.
It mentions that the company Cambridge Analytica collected 5,000 data points related to a person living in the US. Data points are a collection of data that highlights the behaviour pattern or choices of a person. These data points were used to target people with ads that changed their mind on who they should vote for.
Tracking choices and preferences:
Even if we ignore this, let us look at an example of ads that we see on Facebook. How does this happen? Do you think someone will be able to show ads of our choices without knowing what we are looking for?
A new study suggests that Facebook and Google are tracking users even in incognito mode.
Now, let's talk about location tracking, as Facebook doesn’t just track our emotions in their effort to track our personality. A report suggests that Facebook tracks your location even if you asked them not to track your location.
Now, let's talk about images, links, and other things you share with your friends on Messenger. Facebook scans your photos and links that you share with your friends.
What if you provide me all this data that I have mentioned above? Do you think I will be able to know who you are as a person? The answer lies in how you look at it.
The opinions shared above might be a narrow way to draw a conclusion or a large aspect might remain untouched about whether Facebook is mapping our personality, hence the question remains: Is Facebook mapping our personality?
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